The committee chaired by Honourable Nnolim Nnaji arrived at this decision at the end of the investigative hearing Friday on the use of foreign airlines to evacuate stranded Nigerians out of the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States of America by Emirates Airline, British Airways and Ethiopian Airlines.
The House had on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 in adopting a motion sponsored by nine members on the matter mandated the committee to investigate why the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 engaged the foreign airlines for the evacuation flights at expense of indigenous airline e operators.
The House had equally on the account of the motion urged President Mohammed Buhari to direct the Ministries of Aviation and Foreign Affairs, Ministerial Departments, (MDAs) and Presidential Task force to ensure that Nigerian Airlines enjoy the right of first refusal in any future evacuation flights.
The committee also directed the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA) to deny approval to any airline from Canada unless Canadian Authority gives a Nigerian operator approval for evacuation of stranded Nigerians in Canada.
The Ministry of Aviation and its relevant agencies were also mandated to report Canada to the International Civil Aviation Organization, (ICAO) for denying a Nigerian Airline landing rights for the evacuation of stranded Nigerian citizens in that country.
At the investigative hearing, the Air Peace Chairman, Allen Onyema made a presentation on behalf of the indigenous airlines to the effect that both Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and his Foreign Affairs counterpart Godfrey Onyeama who were in attendance tried to protect their interests but blamed the frustrations the airlines were going through on what he described as international aero politics.
He singled the Aviation Minister Senator Sirika for his unprecedented supports to the indigenous airline operators since he assumed office as the Minister of Aviation adding that the approval for importation of aircraft which used to take months before his tenure to obtain now takes less than forty-eight hours to get approved.
The chairman of the committee Honourable Nnaji had in his opening remarks expressed the house’s displeasure over the engagement of the foreign airlines in the earlier evacuations which according to him undermined the integrity of Nigeria as a leading economy in Africa.